Hamas denies breakthrough on unity government

Palestinian envoy to Saudi Arabia says Wednesday that gov't would be declared in matter of hours.

By JPOST STAFF, AP
January 31, 2007 17:37
1 minute read.
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Palestinian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Jamal A-Shubaki announced Wednesday night that in a matter of hours an agreement would be declared over the establishment of a Palestinian Authority Unity government. Hamas denied that a breakthrough was imminent. Israel Radio quoted Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos as saying that high-ranking officials in the international community had aided Palestinian factions to establish such a government by holding talks with Arab countries including Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Earlier, Wednesday, gunmen in a passing car shot and wounded a Fatah militant walking in a Gaza street, security officials said. The officials said unknown gunmen shot the Fatah militant four times, and suggested that Hamas was behind the attack. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press. But Fatah and Hamas officials reiterated their support for the truce between their groups, and refused to assign blame for the attack. The bloodshed in Gaza has left 60 Palestinians dead since erupting in early December. Ayman Taha, a Hamas spokesman, declared his group's "absolute commitment" to the truce, and stressed Hamas "innocence from any act that is in violation of this agreement." "Whoever violates this agreement...doesn't want any good for our people, and doesn't want the agreement to succeed," said Fatah spokesman Abdel Hakim Amer. Previous truce deals between Hamas and Fatah militants in Gaza have quickly collapsed into new waves of fighting, and it appeared unlikely the two sides would comply with all the terms of the current agreement, such as handing over all those involved in killings. Late Tuesday, the two sides began releasing hostages - fighters kidnapped over the past week - both sides said. By Wednesday, both sides said all hostages were free. Police began patrolling in place of security forces, according to terms of the accord. Hamas and Fatah gunmen have used prior lulls to prepare for the next round of fighting. The truce did nothing to resolve the underlying power struggle between Hamas and Fatah that has fueled the fighting. The two sides have been at odds since Hamas defeated Fatah in legislative elections a year ago, dividing power in the Palestinian government. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has urged Hamas to join Fatah in a more moderate coalition. He hopes a softer platform will help end a crippling international aid boycott imposed after the Hamas victory and allow him to resume peace talks with Israel.

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